Third Man Records Vault #33 Icky Thump Subscription Box Review
Third Man Records Vault delivers an exclusive 12″ and 7″ vinyl + a bonus item every quarter. On top of that, there a lot of other perks including live streams of events, pre-sale opportunities, shop access, and chat room access with Jack White and Third Man Employees.
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The Subscription Box: Third Man Records Vault
The Cost: $60 per quarter (There’s a $20 option as well, but that doesn’t include the 12″ vinyl record)
The Products: A quarterly Vault package which includes a 12” record, a 7” record, and a bonus item.
Ships to: Worldwide!
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Vault package #33 is centered around the ten-year anniversary of The White Stripes highly acclaimed final album Icky Thump! Starting with the album, we get a newly remastered 2 LP version of Icky, an LP of previously unreleased demos from before the album was recorded, an LP of all the b-sides of that era, a photobook from the sessions, 2 pins and a print in a beautiful shelf box. This is an unbelievable package, every piece feels like a truly special item. Not only are we commemorating the 10 year anniversary of the album, it’s also 20 years since The White Stripes came into existence, and this release is #500 for Third Man Records! Let’s get into it!
They include a card every month detailing all the items. They don’t mention the print for some reason, but we will get into that in a bit.
Up first we have the Deluxe, 180g, Colored, Remastered anniversary edition of Icky Thump! TMR describes the colors as a “contained explosion”, but I think the white/red colors of the first LP are very reminiscent of the white/red peppermints Jack and Meg seemed so fond of. I love that they sealed these with a sticker that you have to slice open. They mentioned online that the preferred way of opening these is to cut it down the middle and fold the little sticky flaps inside the tip-on sleeve. I’m loving the printed interior sleeve, and the updated B-side label. There are some fun hidden messages in the runouts of this release. Side A has very little runout space but someone snuck in “Clicky Bump”, while Side B has a little note “Monkeys Have It Easy”, alluding to the unreleased track of the same name featured on The Red Demos LP. The C-side runout reads “Faygo Creme Soda”, likely a tip of the hat to Detroit, and the D-side says “Catch Ya Later”. Interestingly enough, despite being remastered, you still can’t hear Meg’s vocals on Rag and Bone – an issue that was present in the original vinyl mastering by Steve Hoffman. Icky Thump X is the first Vault title that was manufactured by Third Man Pressing in Detroit, while the remaining vinyl from this vault was manufactured at United in Nashville. The whole release is packed with nice little touches and sounds amazing.
Next up is this incredible companion piece, the Icky Thump Extras! This is a compilation of all 9 of the non-album b-sides pressed for “the first and last time” on 12-inch luminescent lunar vinyl. We’ve got some fun takes on songs from Icky, a couple of covers, and nearly every track on Side B was produced with Beck! I had never heard the acoustic version of A Martyr For My Love For You and was surprised it wasn’t included on the Jack White acoustic album from last year because it is a gorgeous recording with Meg adding just some tambourine to keep the beat. The sleeves are printed inside with the edge stickers from the single releases, which I thought was a nice touch!
The next piece of vinyl in this package is The Red Demos, a collection of the demoed versions of Icky Thump that features the unreleased track Monkeys Have It Easy! Icky Thump was the first and only album that Jack and Meg demoed beforehand, and was recorded in their rehearsal space in Nashville. This is such an awesome collector’s piece. The cover art is an unused photo from the same shoot Icky’s cover came from. The design of the package is reminiscent of a mockup from a printer, with printer’s notes present all over the place, giving it a “one-of-a-kind” feel. The music here is recorded well and sounds great. You definitely feel like you’re in the room when you crank it, and it’s so cool to hear where the final versions came from. One issue that plagues all 4 pieces of vinyl in my vault are that the center holes are far too tight. It takes a good bit of work to get them on and off the spindle!
Up next is this awesome photobook featuring Polaroid images taken by James Swanson during every step of the recording process for Icky Thump. It’s packed with photos from rehearsals, recordings, and photos of Swanson’s personal notes from each day. The introduction talks about his process and there are a bunch of little factoids about Jack and Meg’s recording process – did you know that when tracking an album, they only wear black and white? Jack owned all the cameras used for the photos in the book too, but it seems like only Swanson’s photos are printed in the book. I leafed through this probably 3 times while listening to the album and it made for a pretty immersive experience.
The next non-music item in the vault this month is this Rag and Bone pin set! It is 2 high-quality enamel pins that feature the horse artwork from the Rag and Bone 7” release. They each have 2 pins in the back, so when you put them on your jacket or bag you know they aren’t going anywhere. I added these to our growing pin wall collection in the studio!
Finally this month we get a nice little screenprint of a twin lens reflex camera. From the vault 33 press release:
To even further blow this thing out of the water is one of nine different 8×10 White Stripes images by Rob Jones. Randomly inserted so you have no idea which one you’ll get, these include classic updates on art and graphics from the original release era in addition to completely new ideas, all rendered in the highest quality silkscreen printing and suitable for immediate framing or burning.
The print is on good quality white cardstock and the one I got features artwork that was used, as far as I can tell, on a Rob Jones poster for The White Stripes in NYC. This was a cool addition to the box but I feel like I’ll probably end up just keeping it tucked away with the box itself for now.
Verdict: The 33rd Third Man Records Vault was truly amazing. We get to experience Icky Thump from inception! From that buzz of a mic’d amp in the rehearsal studio to the unforgettable lick in Icky Thump, and the documentation of everything in between. All of the extra touches throughout the artwork and bonus items made every single piece feel special and the curation was, as usual, top notch. Check out all the past Vault releases to get a sense of what you could expect for future releases!
What did you think of the 33rd Third Man Records Vault?